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15 Interesting Teas and Teabags

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There are plenty of fancy tea infusers on the market, but what about fun tea bags or just unusual tea in general? There’s a whole world of interesting tea flavors and packaging on the internet to explore. Here are some interesting ideas and designs people have come up with to push the limits of what tea can be.

1. NOVEL TEA

A hot cup of tea and a good book are an obvious match, so it makes sense to combine them into delightful teabags that sport quotes from literary greats like Alice Hoffman and Mark Twain. Each pack comes with 25 English breakfast teabags with quotes from writers about books and tea. You can grab a pack on Amazon.

2. FISH TEABAG

 

Taipei-based creative agency Charm Villa created adorable fish-shaped teabags that turn your mug into a fishbowl. When you plunk one of the tea-filled fish into water, the body swells and unfolds. When you pull the string, it looks like the fish is actually swimming. You can buy one on Amazon, but unfortunately, they cost a lot more here in the U.S. than they do in Taiwan.

3. VARIOUS SHAPES

If you like the idea of fun-shaped teabags but aren’t a fan of the price, consider getting a pack from TeaHeritage. The French Etsy store creates adorable shaped teabags that resemble everything from bunnies to airplanes. Some even come with matching tags; for example, the star teabag comes with a glittery Saturn tag. 

4. FLOWERING PACKAGING

German designer Andrej Krahne came up with flowering teabags that open when they get wet. Each bag is connected to a paper flower or leaf that’s folded up. When the teabag is put in the mug, the paper tag stays afloat and slowly opens like a real flower.

5. ORIGAMI TEA BAGS

Washington tea seller Dovely makes beautiful teabags that look like origami birds. They sell these special teabags in packs of 16 or individually with a card. You can buy them on Etsy.

6. MAPLE BACON TEA

Yes, there truly is bacon-flavored everything. This bacon maple chai offers bacon lovers yet another way to enjoy their favorite meaty flavor. The tea comes from Tattle Tea, who sells the loose leaves in packages of five ounces.

7. TEA WITH A BUILT IN FILTER 

 

Sugart sells tea in special long sleeves. Thanks to built-in filters, you can dunk the whole thing right into your mug. They offer a whole range of flavors, like fruit berry, peppermint, and chamomile.

8. JAPANESE CULTURE-INSPIRED TAGS

 

Tea tags are great for helping you fish out the teabag when it’s finished soaking. But they don't always stay put. Japanese company Yamasu Sugimoto Shoten created teabags with special tags shaped like ninjas, samurai, sumo wrestlers, and other figures from Japanese history and culture. Thanks to their unique shape, they can hang on to the side of your mug until you're ready to fish the teabag out.

9. WINE-INSPIRED ICED TEA

Not interested in bacon or vegetable-flavored tea? You might like this more sensible flavor option: wine. Sonoma makes a series of wine-inspired iced tea flavors perfect for teetotaling oenophiles. The collection has three flavors: cabernet, chardonnay, and rosé.

10. CELEBRITIES

These tea bags make it look like famous people from history are lounging in your mug. From Elvis to Queen Elizabeth, there’s someone for everyone. Donkey Products sells individual bags as well as groups of related people (like Christmas characters and comedians). Each pack comes with five amusing teabags.

11. CHANGING TEABAG DESIGNS

Malaysian tea company BOH wanted to remind its customers about the calming qualities of chamomile tea. Instead of creating a traditional commercial, they created a new kind of teabag to get the message across. The new line of teabags features a series of threatening or hostile designs printed in edible tea ink. When submerged in hot water, the ink fades into the cup, leaving a more pleasing, calm image. We can’t find a place to buy this wonderful publicity stunt, but we enjoy the concept all the same.

12. DOLPHIN BLUE TEA 

After a successful crowdsourcing campaign, Japan now gets to enjoy dolphin-shaped teabags that create bright blue or yellow tea. Adorably, the tea tags are shaped like anchors to complete the nautical theme.

13. SAVORY TEA

Most teas come in sweet or spiced flavors, but you can also get teas that taste like a salad. Numi Organic has a line of savory tea flavors inspired by produce you can find in a garden. Their garden sampler pack includes six different vegetable-inspired flavors. Some options include carrot curry, spinach chive, and broccoli cilantro. The description calls the drink “not quite a soup, but more than a tea.” You can try it yourself on Amazon.

14. TEA FOR TWO

Designer Tom Chludil has a friendly idea on how we should share our tea. He created a mock-up for a teabag that can be split in half and enjoyed by two friends. The legs are the teabags while the arms are filled with sugar. One side is written in English while the other side is written in Czech.

15. POLAROID TEA TAGS

If you’re not satisfied with any of these offerings, you can take matters into your own hands and create your own interesting teabags. Here’s an idea for DIY tea tags that look like Polaroid pictures. Quirky camera accessory store Photojojo has the tutorial right here.

BONUS: FISHERMAN TEA HOLDER

Now that you have the perfect tea bag picked out, you just need the right holder to keep the string in place. Might we suggest these adorable fishermen who will fish out your teabag? The sets come with four fishermen wielding little fishing rods around which you can wrap your teabags.

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Martin Lewison, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
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20 of the Most Interesting Trees Around the World
Martin Lewison, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Martin Lewison, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Whether they bleed crimson sap or uncannily resemble human features, these 20 trees aren't your average oaks and elms.

1. TREE SHAPED LIKE A HAND

The stubby, leafless branches of an olive tree, outstretched and resembling a palm. A man has his palm outstretched next to it.
Ramzi Haidar, Getty

In 2009, a man from the southern Lebanese village of Hasbaya brought his 85-year-old olive tree to Beirut to be displayed. He believed its resemblance to an outstretched palm was miraculous and felt it should be shared with the public.

2. "WORLD FAMOUS TREE HOUSE"

Black and white image of two men standing in front of an enormous tree, with a door with a sign over it that says "See the inside no charge" and a hanging sign that proclaims "Fraternal Monarch."
Getty/Fox Photos

Recognized by Ripley's Believe It or Not! in the 1930s as "the tallest one-room house in the world," this redwood along northern California's Redwood Highway was hollowed out by a fire some 300 years ago. But it's still alive and thriving, and although no one lives there now, the inside is home to some small mechanical toys that you can see for a few coins. Despite the Ripley's recognition, it doesn't appear that anyone actually lived in the house, though a road construction crew stayed there for a week in the 1920s when building the road. If you happen to find that this tree is closed, check out the nearby Living Chimney Tree, which is similar, minus the mechanical diversions.

3. CHAPEL OAK

A towering oak tree with a spiral staircase and two chapels carved into it.
Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

As the oldest known tree in France, Le Chêne Chapelle ("the Chapel Oak") in the village of Allouville-Bellefosse has been around for at least 800 years, and some say it dates all the way back to the reign of Charlemagne. Though lightning struck the tree and rendered its center hollow during the 1600s, the tree managed to survive. A local abbot decided to make use of the hollow by erecting a shrine to the Virgin Mary inside; a second chapel and a staircase were later added. Sadly, the Chapel Oak isn't doing so well these days—the 33-foot trunk has died, and shingles cover the trunk where the bark is missing.

4. DRAGON BLOOD TREE

A large, mushroom-cloud shaped tree with reddish, vein-like branches.
Khaled Fazaa, Getty

The dragon blood tree, native to Yemen, doesn't just look cool from the outside—it also "bleeds" red sap. Because of its crimson color, it's been speculated that the dragon's blood sap was used to give Stradivarius violins their distinct hue.

5. RAINBOW EUCALYPTUS

Skinny tree trunks with brightly colored streaks running down the bark.

It's easy to see why this tree has such a colorful name, but how it gets its bright streaks is not as easy to explain. The ever-changing colors are due to the evolving bark of the eucalyptus. As the bark grows, it exfoliates thin layers of tissue, and as the layers peel off, the fresh, lime green bark underneath is revealed. As the exposed bark ages, it changes to dark green, then blue-purple, then pink-orange. The final stage before exfoliation starts again is a brownish-maroon hue, so the rainbow colors are really just different natural stages of bark development.

6. ANGEL OAK

A huge tree with massive outstretched branches in every direction.
MadeYourReadThis, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

At 65 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference, this massive oak tree on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina, provides shade to an area of about 17,000 square feet. Oak trees usually grow up instead of out, but since this one is somewhere between 400 and 500 years old, it's had plenty of time to do both. The Angel Oak gets its name from former owners Justus and Martha Waight Tucker Angel, but the tree is now owned by the City of Charleston.

7. BIKE IN A TREE

A tree embedded in the bark of a tree.
Sean O'Neill, Flickr // CC BY-ND-2.0

There's a sad story that goes along with this bike that has been overtaken by a tree with an appetite—it's said that a young boy who lived on Vashon Island, Washington, left his bike leaning against the trunk in 1914, then went off to war, and never came back to retrieve it. Fortunately, it's made up. The real story, according to resident Helen Puz, isn't quite so heartstring-tugging. In 1954, her 8-year-old son, Don, inherited a girl's bike. He wasn't too happy about riding it, so when the bike somehow got "misplaced," Don didn't look too hard for it. Fast-forward 40 years, when Puz read an article in the local paper about a bike that had been lifted five feet off the ground by a tree that grew up around it. She checked it out, and realized that Don's long-lost bike had been found.

8. CROOKED TREES OF POLAND

A series of oddly curved tree trunks that seem to be naturally occurring.

Thought to have been planted in the early 1930s, 400 50-foot pine trees near Gryfino, Poland, bend sharply at the trunk in a manner that has scientists baffled. If the structure was the result of a genetic mutation, the trees would curve in places other than the base. And if the cause was environmental—say, snow weighing down the trunks as they were newly formed—then surrounding trees of the same type and age should have been similarly affected. One hypothesis is that local farmers manipulated the trees to curve for furniture purposes, but were prevented from harvesting them when World War II broke out.

9. THE SUNLAND BAOBAB

A group of people stand in a line in front of a very wide baobab tree
South African Tourism, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

With a circumference of 154 feet, the Sunland Baobab in Modjadjiskloof, South Africa, was once famous for being the widest Baobab in the world. Carbon-dated at around 1700 years old, the tree began to hollow out at around 1000 years old—which made it perfect for a small bar inside. Sadly, a large branch representing about one-third of the tree split off in 2016, causing a lot of damage and permanently closing the bar inside.

10. STRANGLER FIG

A tree trunk with a natural, strange white lattice over it.
Poyt44, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The lattice on the tree above may be beautiful, but it's also deadly—the intricate pattern is actually the strangler fig slowly squeezing the life out of the tree it envelops. The fig tree grows when a bird or other animal drops its sticky seed in the branches of another tree. The seed is able to thrive on the tree's surface, and as it grows, its long roots reach down the host tree and, eventually, into the ground. The strangler fig can be found in tropical and subtropical zones, and is a frequent sight in southern Florida and the Keys.

11. MONKEY PUZZLE TREE

A tall tree with no branches or leaves on most of the trunk, only at the top - it resembles an umbrella. A blue sky with clouds is in the background.

The national tree of Chile is certainly a distinctive one. Though the Araucaria araucana is more pyramid-shaped when it's young, it becomes rather top-heavy as it ages—and it can really age. Monkey puzzles can live to be up to 2000 years old and reach heights of about 164 feet. As a conifer, it produces edible cones called "piñones." Now, about that unusual name: Legend has it that in the 1850s, when the trees were becoming popular as decorative plantings in English gardens, noted lawyer Charles Austin looked at one and remarked, "It would puzzle a monkey to climb that."

12. THE BOAB PRISON TREE

A stout, thick tree with a skinny, vertical knothole in the middle. It's surrounded by a fence.
Martin Kraft, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

There's a dark legend surrounding this unique boab tree in Western Australia: It's said that the tree's human-sized knothole made it the perfect prison cell during the 1890s, when Aboriginal prisoners were on their way to Derby for sentencing. Although the tree is on the State Heritage Register as "prison boab tree" and the signage around the tree acknowledges this supposed history, there doesn't appear to be much evidence for the tree being used as a cage.

13. BUDDHA HEAD IN A TREE

A head from a Buddha statue entwined in tree roots.
ironypoisoning, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

No one is quite sure how this Buddha head got so perfectly entwined in the roots of this tree at the Wat Mahathat temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand, but there are plenty of theories. The statue was likely decapitated in 1767, when the Burmese army invaded and destroyed the ancient temple. The temple was abandoned until the 1950s, when restoration work began, and that's when the statue head was discovered. One theory is that the perfect juxtaposition happened to occur naturally when the statue piece fell within the tree roots just right. Another is that a thief placed it there to hide it in the 1900s, which is when part of the temple collapsed due to treasure hunters.

However it happened, the head is there to stay—a guard is now stationed nearby to make sure that souvenir-hunting tourists don't get too grabby.

14. ÁRBOL DE TULE

A wide tree with a circumference of 137.8 feet.

At more than 32 feet in diameter and about 114 in height, the Árbol del Tule in the town of Santa María del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico, is considered to be the broadest tree in the world. In fact, the Montezuma cypress is so stout that scientists once thought it was actually a few trees that had somehow merged together, but modern testing has revealed that the 1500-year-old tree really is just a single trunk.

15. CYPRESS TREE TUNNEL

A tunnel formed by very tall Cypress trees with a paved road between the two rows.
sodai gomi, Flickr // CC-BY-2.0

Planted sometime around 1930, this Monterey cypress tunnel at Point Reyes National Seashore, a park reserve in Marin County, California, marks a historic wireless transmission site that still stands today.

16. THE CIRCUS TREES

The "legs" of a tree span a sidewalk, creating a tunnel that can easily be walked under.

In 1947, a Swedish American farmer named Axel Erlandson turned his tree-shaping hobby into a tourist attraction. Erlandson, who had a knack for creating living art with trees and plants, was constantly experimenting with grafting trees together and encouraging multiple trunks to grow into one. When he had 60-70 fairly mature examples of artfully twisted trunks and branches, he dug them up and relocated them near Santa Cruz, California. The attraction garnered some attention from Ripley's Believe It or Not! and LIFE magazine, and in 1963, Erlandson sold his grove of "Circus Trees." Sadly, he passed away in 1964 without telling anyone how he shaped the trees. "I talk to them," he was fond of telling anyone who asked.

Though they've passed from owner to owner through the years, these days, the trees are a main attraction at the Gilroy Gardens theme park.

17. DARK HEDGES

Two rows of gnarled trees reaching out over a path.

They're just beech trees, but the gnarled, foreboding tunnel they form has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland. The trees—about 150 of them—were planted 200 years ago by the Stuart family, who wanted to create an intimidating entrance to their house. Known as "the Dark Hedges," the cluster of trees have made a handful of appearances in TV shows and movies. Hoping to keep the trees healthy for another two centuries, the Department of Infrastructure recently banned vehicles from driving on the road.

18. WINDBLOWN TREES OF NEW ZEALAND

A copse of trees that look as if they are being forcefully blown to the right by wind. Sheep graze in the grass at the bottom of the trees.

These macrocarpa (a type of cypress) trees in New Zealand may look like they're windblown, but they retain their extreme angles even on a calm day. The strange bend is the result of saplings surviving and thriving in the windy environment. The manager of the farm where the trees live says their photogenic branches conceal a secret—the ruins of a house that sheep now use for shelter.

19. THE SCREAMING TREE

A tree trunk with 3 knotholes resembling two eyes and a mouth open in a scream.
Pleuntje, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

This tree in the Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen nature reserve near Ghent in Belgium has knotholes that makes it resemble Edvard Munch's 1893 painting The Scream.

20. THE TREE OF LIFE

A tree perched precariously between two cliffs, with the roots dangling down into the empty space between the two formations.
daveynin, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Also known as the Tree Root Cave, this tree, located in Olympic National Park near Kalaloch, Washington, has managed to survive even though erosion has removed most of its support system.

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Hate Red M&M's? You Need a Candy Color-Sorting Machine
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iStock

You don’t have to be a demanding rock star to live a life without brown M&M's or purple Skittles—all you need is some engineering know-how and a little bit of free time.

Mechanical engineering student Willem Pennings created a machine that can take small pieces of candy—like M&M's, Skittles, Reese’s Pieces, etc.—and sort them by color into individual piles. All Pennings needs to do is pour the candy into the top funnel; from there, the machine separates the candy—around two pieces per second—and dispenses all of it into smaller bowls at the bottom designated for each variety.

The color identification is performed with an RGB sensor that takes “optical measurements” of candy pieces of equal dimensions. There are limitations, though, as Pennings revealed in a Reddit Q&A: “I wouldn't be able to use this machine for peanut M&M's, since the sizes vary so much.”

The entire building process lasted from May through December 2016, and included the actual conceptualization, 3D printing (which was outsourced), and construction. The entire project was detailed on Pennings’s website and Reddit's DIY page.

With all of the motors, circuitry, and hardware that went into it, Pennings’s machine is likely too ambitious of a task for the average candy aficionado. So until a machine like this hits the open market, you're probably stuck buying bags of single-colored M&M’s in bulk online or sorting all of the candy out yourself the old fashioned way.

To see Pennings’s machine in action, check out the video below:

[h/t Refinery 29]

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